(Image courtesy of http://www.alexandracooks.com. Mine shall replace it shortly.)
You’ve just seared and butter-basted yourself a steak. The char is real, you’ve conquered the Maillard reaction in your pan, and you’ve just set your sirloin aside to rest. You grasp the handle of your pan and begin to place it into the sink to soak, ’cause you’re good like that.
Friends, those brown-going-black sticky bits at the bottom of the pan, the smoky, shadowy imprints of meat, the memory of sizzling protein?
That’s gold you’re about to wash down the drain.
No, I’m not about to tell you to spend another ten minutes making gravy with the stuff. See, I’m not much of a gravy person. I enjoy its bold, savory kick over a mound of mashed potatoes, but I’ve always preferred steak that’s been kissed by something lighter. Tangier. It used to be that I would squeeze fresh lemon over the meat as it rested.
But those days are over.
I’ve discovered a fool-proof sauce that’ll add an unabashed kick to your medium-rare centerpiece. It requires three ingredients: red wine, balsamic vinegar, and sugar. It doesn’t matter which kind. The last ingredient in any recipe is, of course, time, but you’ll barely notice while you stare, transfixed, at your creation. It’s sweet and tangy. A robust, dark burgundy. Irresistible. Unmistakably steak-derived. And it’ll knock your toque off.
– A pan you just cooked steak in, seared residue intact.
– 3/4 cup red wine
– 2 to 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
– 1 heaped tbsp sugar
1. If you turned the heat off when your steak was done, get your pan back onto medium-high heat. Just before the oil and meaty residue begin to smoke, add the wine and use a wooden spoon to deglaze (scrape the sticky steak bits from) the pan.
2. Add the vinegar and sugar.
3. At this point, the sauce will smell intensely of vinegar and alcohol. Not to worry – both will quickly evaporate from your sauce. Stir vigorously to dissolve the sugar – the sauce should be bubbling and steaming away merrily as you do this. This action is known as reducing your concoction; you have license here to control just how much water you want evaporated. As the liquid thickens, the wine-vinegar-sugar combination will become slightly syrupy and intensify as an umami-loaded party of flavor. The longer you let this bubble, the more concentrated your sauce will become and, hence, the less you’ll need to spoon over your steak. It’s a great chance to sneak in an early bite – test the sauce with a thin slice of meat!
4. Pour into a bowl with a small (tea) serving spoon. Nom with as much or as little decorum as your famished state will allow you.